What began as a retired firefighter”s vision to help children with disabilities has since become so much more. Courageous Kids Climbing, a program that hosts rock climbing events for children with disabilities, was first created by Jeff Reichmann and continues to grow, said Alexis Tschida, a University of Idaho senior.
“Jeff himself has a disability – he lost his hearing,” Tschida said. “I think he wanted a way to reach out to kids with disabilities, to give them opportunities to do what everyone else can do.”
In the past two years, the organization that began in McCall, Idaho, has held four climbing events for children with disabilities throughout Idaho.
This year, the organization has six climbing events planned throughout Idaho and Washington.
One of their upcoming events, Tschida said, will be hosted by UI.
Tschida, a family and consumer sciences major, said she first became involved in Courageous Kids Climbing through her internship at the Center on Disabilities and Student Development on campus.
Tschida is in the process of organizing CKC”s upcoming event, which will take place at the UI Student Recreation Center climbing wall May 7.
“It”s a free climbing event for kids with disabilities – intellectual, physical, anything,” Tschida said. “We have all kinds of adaptive equipment to help kids climb so kids who maybe can”t just climb traditionally, hand and foot, have different harnesses they can use. It”s very inclusive. Anyone can be a part, no matter what their disability is.”
Tschida said rock climbing not only provides a way for students to get involved with a university event, but it also helps students develop coordination and planning skills.
“I”m excited to see it come to fruition,” Tschida said. “I”m excited to see all the kids and all the pieces come together, all the volunteers.”
Tschida said the event will need about 20 student volunteers, and that she hopes students from all walks of life sign up to work the event.
“I really want students to get involved because this is not the typical experience that most students would have,” Tschida said. “Not all students on campus work with students with disabilities or know a lot about the disability community, so I kind of want to reach out so volunteers can benefit from being a part of something they normally wouldn”t have been a part of.”
Volunteers aren”t required to have any rock climbing experience, and Tschida said after requesting to sign up for the event by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, their rock climbing training at the SRC is free.
“My goal is to give people awareness,” Tschida said. “Anyone can volunteer, you don”t need to have any experience with rock climbing or students with disabilities.”
In addition to the Courageous Kids Climbing events, Jill Garnett, development coordinator with the College of Education, said Reichmann also recently reached out to UI”s College of Education with a scholarship proposal.
Garnett said the scholarship, which became official Feb. 1, will present a student with a learning disability an award of $1,000 to help them fund their higher education.
“It”s a nice program – it definitely will help keep students with disabilities involved with the university and give them opportunities they not have already had,” Garnett said. “The scholarship will also benefit a student with learning disabilities and help them attend the university.”
Like the Courageous Kids Climbing event, Tschida said the scholarship will help students with disabilities maintain their independence.
“This is a way for kids to feel like, “I can be independent, you know, just because maybe I have a certain disability that does give me some limitations, there”s always a way for me to do whatever I want,”” Tschida said. “That”s always kind of the goal of the program – to give kids the opportunity to succeed.”
Corrin Bond can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CorrBond